My Lords, I rise to ask whether His Majesty's Government are aware of the fact that it is becoming a common practice for British sailing ships to carry apprentices who are foreigners; if so, whether, in their opinion, it is not probable that on completion of their qualifying time these foreign apprentices will present themselves for examination for certificates enabling them to officer and command British vessels; whether they propose to take any steps in the matter; and whether they are keeping statistical records as to the numbers of alien appren-1512 tices who are engaged by British shipowners.
§ *THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
My Lords, I have to inform the noble Lord, in reply to his first Question, that it is a fact that a certain number of foreign apprentices are carried on British ships. The number has not greatly varied in recent years, and last year—1904—the foreign apprentices numbered only forty-five out of a total of 1,167. As to the second Question, it is not possible to state definitely the object for which these apprenticeships are entered into, but no doubt in some cases it may be with a view of obtaining certificates in our mercantile marine. In other cases it is probably with a view of gaining experience in sailing ships which may not be available to them in the countries of which they are natives.